PREVIOUSLY: We pull up on a wooded hill overlooking the sprawling campus of middle/high school that [Tame Impala singer/guitarist/songwriter] Kevin Parker attended. “There’s actually a mental institution right across the road,” says Parker, pointing off in the distance at a warren of grim-looking buildings, some are walled off and have bars on the windows. “It’s called Gray Lands. My stepbrother went there, actually. He’s paranoid schizophrenic from weed and acid and crystal meth. Actually, my stepmother blames the drugs, but I think it would have happened anyway. He started acting more and more peculiar and slipping into these super violent rages. His mom was the one person he took all his anger out on. He started kicking down doors and going mental and then it became apparent that he was falling down a mental chasm. My brother was locked up in the Smith Ward, which is apparently the worst. It was really sad, the transition between him being a fun loving, rebellious, pot-smoking teenager to a mental institute. I saw the whole thing.”
Next stop: Troy Terrace, the boho flophouse where Parker lived commune-style with a revolving cast of musicians, artists and assorted ne’re do wells — many of them members of Mink Mussel Creek which was, by this point, morphing into Pond. Supporting himself by manning the cash register at a nearby liquor store, Parker lived here because his father told him he couldn’t live at home if he wasn’t going to college. The reason he stopped going to college — where he majored in astronomy, still a passion of his — is that he got a phone call one day while he walking across campus to take a test he was woefully unprepared for. The phone call was from Modular Records, which is sort of the Sub Pop/Matador/Merge of Australia, asking if he’d like to record an album for them. Yes, of course, he said. Electing to blow off the test, he turned on his heels and walked home. Kevin Parker was officially a college drop out.
It was amidst the dope-fueled creativity and chaos at Troy Terrace that that he wrote all the songs for Innerspeaker. They grew pot plants in the back garden and would jam on the roof Beatles-style, which is somewhat hard to believe given that the house is smack dab in the middle of a row of respectable-looking houses peopled with respectable-looking people who it’s hard to believe cottoned to marijuana patches and stoned longhairs kicking out the jams, and maybe a few shingles as well, on their ceiling. And yet they did.
“In those days we were so absorbed in what we were doing,” he says. “The idea of the world going on around us was just this foreign and irrelevant cycle of life. We’d be up until dawn, and get up whenever or just stay awake forever and grow weed plants and make music. There’s this 24-hour shop that sold all sorts of munchies food, so we’d get super blazed and it’d be an absolute fucking journey, when in reality it was 200 meters away. We’d see people walking by in suit and ties and we’d be like ‘Oh, it must be a week day.’” MORE